When you see me at conferences, you might notice that I am often very engaged while at the event. However after the event lets out, and everyone heads off to the bar or pub, you may not find me tagging along anymore. You see, I am finding it increasingly hard to be present, because of one thing--my hearing.
You may not know this, but I am completely deaf in my left ear, and only have around 30% left in my right ear. This was the findings in a hearing test I had done in 2007, and I'm assuming by 2015 I have lost even more. Historically I have done pretty well, with a mix of reading lips, and piecing together what words I do hear, but this year I am finding it increasingly difficult to make things work.
As I live longer with my hearing impairment, I find one side effect, is that I tend to feel sounds more than I hear them, and when I'm in loud bars, I tend to feel everything, and hear nothing. This results in me feeling and hearing the loud noises, but actually understanding none of what people around me are saying to me. Overall this is really overstimulating, and after spending a day at a conference is can be very difficult for me, leaving me able to handle no more than maybe an hour or two in loud environments.
I also noticed a couple times recently where people were talking to me, usually on my left side and I did not notice, resulting in confusion, but then when I hear only portions of conversations, and I seem uninterested (as I do not know what is going on), people seemed a little offended--if this was you, I am truly sorry.
I understand not everyone who hangs out with me at events will read this, but I wanted to write it anyways, and gather my thoughts. I will be ditching out of bars earlier than I have in the past, and I'm hoping the folks who really want to hang out with me will join me in a more quieter setting, where I can hopefully be engaged a little more.
Thank you for understanding.